Times Cryptic 28580


Solving time: 29 minutes

As my solving time indicates, I didn’t have much difficulty with this one. The long answer at 5dn was a gift and provided a lot to build on early in the proceedings, but the corresponding long word at 9dn delayed me unduly at the very end when I had been hoping to knock a good 5-10 minutes off my target half-hour. Still this was all a welcome relief after yesterday’s debacle.

As usual definitions are underlined in bold italics, {deletions and substitutions are in curly brackets} and [anagrinds, containment, reversal and other indicators in square ones]. I usually omit all reference to positional indicators unless there is a specific point that requires clarification.

1 Case demanding investigation at first during dance (6)
I{nvestigation} [at first] contained by [during] VALSE (dance). There’s nothing to indicate the French word for ‘waltz’ here but along with many other musical directions and styles it long ago became integrated into English.
4 Dandy’s invitation to flyer to pay a quick visit? (8)
POP IN (invitation… to pay a quick visit), JAY (flyer – bird). This word for a foppish, excessively talkative person has its origins in an old French word meaning a parrot.
10 River god: in France he principally inhabits bell towers (9)
CAM (river  – in Cambridge), PAN (god), IL (in France ‘he’), I{nhabits} [principally]. A campanile is usually free-standing like the one at St Mark’s in Venice and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
11 Stunner modelled again, having retired (5)
RESAT (modelled again) reversed [retired]. I have seen this elsewhere within the past week, so it went in easily today.
12 Prehistoric item originally accommodated by girl in charge (7)
I{tem} [originally] contained [accommodated] by LASS (girl), IC (in charge). I didn’t know this but the wordplay was crystal clear and many such geological periods end in -ASSIC so there wasn’t much work to do.
13 Mournful European member with current account (7)
E (European), LEG (member), I (current), AC (account). For this word I always want to write -AIC rather than -IAC so I was grateful for helpful wordplay.
14 Note about tailless donkey’s short break down under (5)
SO (note – variation on ‘soh’ and ‘sol’) contains [about] MOK{e} (donkey – slang) [tailless]. This Australian word was new to me, but what else could it be?
15 Excluded from national team perhaps, though never bettered (8)
Two meanings
18 Way old Jack returns, at a gentle speed (8)
MODE (way), then O (old) + TAR (Jack – sailor) reversed [returns]. Another musical import.
20 Mean to follow stoat’s first trail (5)
S{toat’s} [first], POOR (mean – badly off). The track or scent left by an animal.
23 Fashionable present, for example — very strong (7)
IN (fashionable), TENSE (present, for example)
25 Time a chap is overcome by marijuana (7)
KEN (chap) contained [overcome] by WEED (marijuana). Not a very good clue with the loosest of definitions, a random bloke plus a dangling ‘a’.
26 Vocalise quietly, attracting husband’s disapproving grunt (5)
HUM (vocalise), P (quietly), H (husband)
27 Put in the picture, relaxing in the glen (9)
Anagram [relaxing] of IN THE GLEN
28 Person of wide learning taking old college subject in US (8)
POLY (old college – polytechnic), MATH (subject in US)
29 Report of pranks primarily inflicted by English girl (6)
TRIX sounds like [report of] “tricks” (pranks), I{nflicted} [primarily], E (English). After an outing in 2017 Trixie didn’t appear again until last Friday, but here she is, back already!
1 Singer’s accountant plugging very old record (8)
CA (accountant) contained by [plugging] V (very) + O (old) + LIST (record)
2 High-class medic in Nigerian city dismissing son’s back pain (7)
U (high-class) + MB (medic) contained by [in] LAGO{s} (Nigerian city) [dismissing son]
3 Eg Corrie’s character making material for tabletops (9)
SOAPS (eg Corrie’s – Coronation Street’s), TONE (character). Soapstone – a massive compact soft variety of talc, used for making tabletops, hearths, ornaments, etc. I knew the word but not what it meant, nor its specific use in the manufacture of tabletops as confirmed by Collins.
5 Roundhead leader Royal extremists will overcome somehow (6,8)
Anagram [somehow] of R{oya}L [extremists] WILL OVERCOME. A clue absolutely ripe for biffing!
6 Man possibly absorbing first of this fibre (5)
ISLE (of Man possibly) containing [absorbing] T{his} [first]
7 Magistrate’s way to dip into soft drink (7)
ST (way – street) contained by [to dip into] JUICE (soft drink)
8 Ill-fated jester, one caught entering northern city (6)
I (one) + C (caught – cricket) contained by [entering] YORK (northern city). Geographical locations in Times puzzles tend to be viewed from a London perspective. The character appears as a disembodied skull in Hamlet.
9 Despair in record fellows finally kept about these times (14)
DISC (record) + MEN (fellows) + {kep}T [finally] containing [about] OUR AGE (these times). My LOI. I had the first and last bits but took far too long to come up with something suitable meaning ‘these times’ to fill  the gap.
16 Traveller’s means of contact crossing headland going north (9)
PAGER (means of contact – do they still exist?) containing [crossing] NESS (headland) reversed [going north]
17 Discretion of duke supporting game, dipping into cash (8)
RU (game – Rugby Union) + D (duke) contained by [dipping into] PENCE (cash)
19 Best man enthralled by precious stone (7)
TIM (our second random man) contained [enthralled] by OPAL (precious stone)
21 Work too hard in connection with duty (7)
OVER (in connection with), TAX (duty)
22 Senior cleric’s blunder over work (6)
BISH (very old-fashioned blunder), OP (work)
24 In Latin, a humorous book (5)
Hidden [in] {Lati}N A HUM{orous}. A minor prophet whose book is part of the Old Testament.

96 comments on “Times Cryptic 28580”

  1. 23:27
    I was slowed down by the many DNKs: LIASSIC, SMOKO, UNCAPPED. I had no idea what Corrie was about, and finally biffed SOAPSTONE (LOI) simply because I could think of nothing else given the checkers. (Corrie, incidentally, is another word for cwm.) I was going to grumble about WEEKEND, but Jack beat me to it.

    1. I tried to fit cwm in as well. My first thought for “corrie”. Maybe because I used to live in Cwmbran (Valley of the Crow). There’s lots of cwms around here… (w pronounced as 00 in look)

  2. All seemed very straightforward and formulaic, very quick. Only NHOs were LIASSIC, and the known soapstone/talc used as tabletops – would have thought it too soft.
    LOI Trixie, do they still exist?
    Liked POPINJAY… will now have to revisit the crossword blog in the Grauniad where it was recently clue-writing competition word, receiving hundreds of entries. Also reminds me of a Len Deighton book, where it was a spy’s codename. IPCRESS File, perhaps?

      1. I remember he was well-dressed for some reason. Maybe popinjay was used in the novel to describe him rather than name him. Sure I learnt the word from Deighton.

        1. Yes, he was! I may still have the original Penguin paperback somewhere – I do have the original paperback edition of ‘Horse Under Water’ – so I’ll try and check out Bluejay/Popinjay

  3. Pretty smooth. Didn’t know LIASSIC, but as you say… POI SOAPSTONE (I don’t know the telly show!) and LOI SMOKO (new to me!).

  4. After yesterday’s beastie this was a welcome walk in the park, 6:45. I knew SMOKO and LIASSIC (LIAS has popped up a few times in barred-grid puzzles). I liked the clue for DISCOURAGEMENT

  5. ‘This Australian word was new to me, but what else could it be?’

    Best I could come up with after 20-odd minutes (unable to dredge up any four-letter donkeys) was ‘soono’.

    Looked it up in disgust, fired off a letter to the editor about standards dropping, and cancelled my subscription.

    What next? Servo?! Bottle-o?!!

      1. In Tasmania not so long ago – a place where the population is on permanent smokos.

      2. Thanks, I enjoyed that excursion to the land of Men At Work and INXS. As suggested by one of the verses, I suppose that is one advantage of AI chat bots, that they presumably don’t take SMOKOs.

        Yes, it will have been adapted from SMOKEBREAK, as in ‘popping out for a ciggy’ as Paul suggests. In this clue I was assisted by knowledge of the term SMOKEBREAK from my brother-in-law, an ex-officer in the British army. With a typical officer’s disdain for the ‘men’, he once told me the following joke:

        “Why do you think the rate of smoking so high amongst soldiers in the British Army? Because when you tell the average squaddie it’s time for a ‘SMOKEBREAK’ what do you think he’s going to do?”

        1. Just revisiting to ask myself why I went for the wallpaper when scratching around for Aussie bands to reference. My greatest love from that country has always been The Birthday Party and the Bad Seeds and of course Nick Cave.

    1. Just for starters, there’s also “rego” for car registration and “compo” for compensation, though that may not be just Aust/NZ.

      If galspray pops in today, I’m sure he’ll have another one.

      1. I’ve never understood why countries with a lesser grasp of the language have invented words like registration, compensation and afternoon to replace these perfectly adequate originals.

        What next? Bowling club? Journalist? Musician? Ambulance officer???

        A slippery slope indeed.

    2. I’m waiting till next Sunday to get hot under the collar about one of Dean Mayer’s clues!

      1. ** Comment removed by management – you are not allowed to mention any answers to prize puzzles that are still active **

        1. Your reply reached me by email and I totally agree. I’m expecting a lot of solver ‘feedback’ on Sunday.

      1. In Melbourne for the tennis a month or so ago, my wife and I were served in all the restaurants by koros. Very polite and professional they were too.

          1. [Female] Korean students, who serve you in 90% of the coffee shops.

            It’s ironic that back in the day (my first visit to Australia was in 1978) the only ‘O’ word I heard is one that is now taboo.

              1. Have you seen the 70s classic ‘Wake in Fright’? It’s an astonishing deconstruction of Ocker culture on one level, but so much more.

                1. No, I haven’t but I’ve heard of it. I think it’s pretty scary isn’t it?

                2. Studied it in detail for my Visual Arts course at Uni: agree with everything you say, U.

    3. “[W]hat else could it be”?
      Well, practically anything if you don’t know the obscure slang for a donkey or obscure foreign slang for a break. Pretty ungenerous cluing for a difficult word.

      1. Yes, your point is valid. I had the advantage of knowing the donkey so with that and checkers I had the answer and only had to wonder whether such a word could possibly exist.

    4. I first saw the word in Barry Humphrey’s great cartoon Barry McKenzie in Private Eye, which also brought us chunder and “don’t come the raw prawn with me.”

  6. 28 minutes. I was relieved that normal service has been resumed after yesterday. Even if there were a few uncommon words, def or wordplay helped out with all. As mentioned in the blog, good to see TRIXIE back so soon after last week’s appearance. I liked the wordplay for POPINJAY, also a good word.

    In last Thursday’s Indy puzzle by Methuselah, PAGER was clued as an ‘old-fashioned device’ so I agree that Jack’s comment is on the money.

  7. 27 minutes for me. Like everyone else (apart from Australians, I suppose) I had no idea about SMOKO, which I assume is popping out for a ciggy. I’d never heard of LIASSIC but since I knew Jurassic, it seemed a likely word and the wordplay was pretty clear. Held up for a little at the end with POPINJAY and JUSTICE. I figured “soft drink” was P…ALE or something similar, not just an actual soft drink.

  8. 30mins so on the easier side. held up by NHO SMOKO. Despite having family in AUS and having been there often, I have heard the word spoken.

    Two random men was one too many, and, for me, too many single letters clued by words such as principally, originally, first of etc.

    Otherwise quite enjoyable.

    Thanks jack and setter.

  9. 19′, though for some reason my device marked the U in NAHUM pink. Guessed SMOKO. POPINJAY / JUSTICE LOsI.

    ‘There’s no discouragement….’.

    Thanks jack and setter.

  10. 22 minutes with LOI the unknown SMOKO. COD to POPINJAY, seen once JUSTICE showed its face. I constructed SOAPSTONE straightaway despite the last time I watched Coronation Street being 1961 when Ida Barlow got knocked down by a bus. Enjoyable puzzle. Thank you Jack and setter.

    1. Well, you’ve certainly got a lot of catching up to do. At least there’s still some Barlows bustling around to help give you continuity.

      1. They buried her, so not unless next week’s episodes reveal that for the last 62 years the events in the programme have just been a dream in Ken Barlow’s head.

  11. Quick today, maybe yesterday’s and today’s got switched by mistake?!
    A lot of words familiar from recent crosswords: valise, taser, trixie … humph.
    Nho smoko, and was grateful for the clear assembly instructions for campanili.
    Never ever watched an episode of Corrie, soaps don’t appeal to me.

  12. DNF, defeated by SMOKO – I hadn’t heard of it, nor that a moke is a donkey. I put ‘scolo’, thinking it was col(t) we were after (OK, I know it’s a horse).

    Apart from that, at least this was more straightforward than yesterday’s. Thanks setter and blogger.

    COD Popinjay

  13. 16 minutes, a bit better than yesterday to say the least. Would have been a couple of minutes less without my LOI and NHO SMOKO. Was helped by Oliver Cromwell being so obvious probably. COD POPINJAY.
    Thanks everyone.

  14. 26m 57s
    Two random men, Ken and Tim, went into a bar and said: “What are we doing here? We’re supposed to be in a crossword!”
    I think two is one too many.
    No problem with SMOKO. I’ve never smoked a thing in my life but I did live in Sydney for the best part of 20 years so I was familiar with the word.
    How did a QC clue like 5d get in here?
    3d: Here in NZ ‘Corrie’ is known as ‘Corro’.
    1ac: I listen to a lot of Sibelius so I’m very familiar with the piece ‘Valse Triste’.

  15. 34:13

    Well off the pace today – I have decided that doing the 15×15 before bedtime is not a good idea – that’s the second time in a row I’ve finished behind the Snitch. Think I would have seen the SW much more quickly in the morning.

    Struggled to remember POPINJAY, couldn’t complete JUSTICE easily and NHO MOK{e} or SMOKO so a bit of a dissatisfying conclusion….

  16. 16.04. Some characteristic loose definitions: for instance, for me, ‘discouragement’ and ‘despair’ are nowhere near synonyms.

  17. DNF. Defeated by SMOKO, I went with STOPO – a short short stopover. I flew through most of this but was held up for a long time trying to find SOAPSTONE and the unheard of SMOKO. Roundhead leader was far too easy a definition for a 14 letter answer.

  18. kapietro’s second law, formulated yesterday

    Never mind the rest of the puzzle, 16dn includes headland (ness) going north. This gives SSEN. No problem. Clearly, kapietro’s second law doesn’t apply in these circumstances. Yesterday we had AMGOD travelling east giving (fully in accord with said law) DOGMA. So that’s OK too

    Note – those of you who take notes – your list of reversal indicators should now include:
    from today – going north (in a down clue)
    from yesterday – travelling east (in an across clue)

    There. That’s that sorted

  19. 35 mins, most of them spent trying to get the NHOs SMOKO and LIASSIC. The rest were pleasingly straightforward but without being too easy.

  20. NHO of SMOKO or MOKE, so gave up a few seconds short of 19 minutes after looking at S?O?O for a few minutes. I assume a SMOKO is what I used to call a fag break?

    Otherwise fine – SPOOR took a while to come to mind. I thought CROMWELL rather generous, and POPINJAY rather good.


  21. I thought soapstone was too soft as well, and Wiki has:
    Physical characteristics
    Soapstone is relatively soft because of its high talc content, talc having a definitional value of 1 on the Mohs hardness scale. Softer grades may feel similar to soap when touched, hence the name. No fixed hardness is given for soapstone because the amount of talc it contains varies widely, from as little as 30% for architectural grades such as those used on countertops, to as much as 80% for carving grades.
    Soapstone is easy to carve; it is also durable, heat-resistant and has a high heat storage capacity. It has therefore been used for cooking and heating equipment for thousands of years.
    … Soapstone undergoes transformations when heated to temperatures of 1,000–1,200 °C (1,830–2,190 °F) into enstatite and cristobalite; on the Mohs scale, this corresponds to an increase in hardness to 5.5–6.5.[5] The resulting material, harder than glass, is sometimes called “lava”.

  22. I think the smoko was a feature of the wonderful old Prisoner Cell Block H. Maybe not, but I knew the word well, anyway (although I don’t smoke). 26 minutes, no major problems. Why do people get so incensed about random people, when they don’t get incensed about random rivers? Random a’s and the’s I can understand the objection to.

  23. Well below my best this morning, having already missed out on the QC. Here, my principal problem was entering “campanuli” and not spotting the error of my ways until my LOI became impossible. Fortunately the truth eventually dawned. NHO LIASSIC or SMOKO, but biffed both successfully.

    TIME 9:16

  24. 23:50. Cluing random names as man, or some variant, is a bit sloppy I think. Doing it three times in the same puzzle is just provocative

  25. 07:42, so no hold-ups, and I found a way into every clue from something lodged in the back of my mind. Don’t think I knew LIASSIC was an actual period, but I’ve drunk in more than one pub named The Blue Lias after the local rock, so I definitely knew it was a geological thing. The most definite unknown was 14ac, but I’ve met enough Australians to know how they talk, and it didn’t seem unlikely that lots of them probably do the crosso on their smoko, mate. Always nice to be a random man, even if we are too numerous for some tastes.

  26. Under 30 minutes which is v good for me until I realised that in my haste the unparsed “mishap” should be the much easier “bishop”. Liassic biffed but based on jurassic; had heard of moke so found smoko, though never heard of it. As you say Oliver Cromwell was a gift. thanks to all.

  27. Started with LUMBAGO and finished with a SMOKO. Think I’ll have another COFFO now. 24:57 with 5 of those on SMOKO. Thanks setter and Jack.

  28. Mostly pretty straightforward, but after 25 minutes or so I was left with most of the NW corner unfilled (all bar VALISE and LUMBAGO). LIASSIC got me going again, with SMOKO going in last after 30 minutes. I have come across it relatively recently, but it was not at the front of my mind. SOAPSTONE was largely a guess, though I did know ‘Corrie’ referred to Coronation Street’. It seems a most unlikely material for a tabletop.

  29. 5m 7s, with SMOKO taking the longest to figure out after running through some donkey alternatives and hoping it wasn’t being used in a metaphorical sense.

    Lots of biffing today. NHO VALSE.

  30. 26 mins. Knew SMOKO from Scrabble. LOI HUMPH, failed to separate ‘vocalise quietly’ so had to come here for the explanation. Some very easy clues here.

  31. 26 mins and feared I’d have another DNF but it worked out in the end. Another couple of unknowns- liassic and smoko. But the biggest problems were provided by popinjay and justice, not helped by misspelling elegiac.

    Good puzzle.

  32. Around 9 minutes but too biffable for my taste, I prefer to have to work things out from the wordplay – or maybe I’ve just been doing these things too long when I read “fibre” and immediately write “istle”! Knew smoko from a misspent youth watching Aussie soaps – PCB of course as mentioned above but does anyone remember Sons and Daughters?

  33. Had not heard of SMOKO since about 1994 when I lived in Melbourne. I don’t know any synonyms for Donkey, other than ass and Jenny, so was puzzled by this clue.
    Failed to get POPINJAY as well. I got the hidden clue, but had never heard of it.

  34. This tyro got it nearly done in about 45 minutes, so it must be fairly straightforward. Praise be after yesterday’s horror. Defeated by SMOKO, nho ISTLE (OED prefers “ixtle”), and irrationally I wanted to put WRAXLE (“wrestle, contend, strive”) for TRIXIE even though it obviously didn’t really work.

    POPINJAY it seems can imply beauty, vanity or gaudiness according to taste, hence perhaps Le Carre’ usage.

  35. I was on for a sub 40 minute finish until my last two which took me over 7 minutes to work out. Finally got JUSTICE followed by my LOI POPINJAY. Crossed the line in 47.00 precisely, so not quite at the races today. Like others never heard of SMOKO, and it took me a while to think of a MOKE as a donkey.

  36. 12:22. DNK LIASSIC or SMOKO and I see I’m not alone. At keast LIASSUC didn’t use a random girl’s name. Thanks Jackkt and setter.

  37. Also defeated by SMOKO and LIASSIC was a guess but easy enough. I agree WEEKEND was a bit sloppy but otherwise a tidy puzzle I think. Thanks for the blog.

  38. 29’ with SOAPSTONE taking the last five minutes or so, unaccountably. Like our blogger, I filled in DISCOURAGEMENT from the outsides in, with the middle six taking a while to appear. When they did, I think this won my COD.

  39. 13’58” OLIVER CROMWELL was so obvious I thought it must be a trick, but it wasn’t. I suppose it’s one of the clues where the very clever surface makes up for the fact that it’s ridiculously easy. NHO SMOKO but long experience here has prepared me for Aussie slang, and it didn’t take much to work it out. In the below-the-line comments in the Times news section, President Macron is constantly being described as a “strutting popinjay” – so often it’s become a dreary cliché.

  40. ‘Down time sees man overcome by drug’.

    Discouragement and despair aren’t synonyms-hrumph!

    The easiness of the answer for 5d shouldn’t take anything away from the neatness of the clue.

  41. First completed in a quick (for me) time in a while- hoorah! Maybe being in a hurry helped? Sailed through with only the unknown LIASSIC and NAHUM holding me up , but successfully worked out. ☺️

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